Director: Craig Gillespie
Cast: Chris Pine, Holiday Grainger, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Kyle Gallner
Running Time: 117 Minutes
The Finest Hours is the true story of the daring rescue of an oil tanker crew during a major blizzard in 1952.
The oil tanker in question split in half during a horrific blizzard and only thanks to the quick thinking of the engine operator does the crew survive as long as it did. The first time you see the tanker split in half is a remarkable piece of scenery and kudos to director Graig Gillespie for that amazing shot. But as remarkable and amazing as this story is, the movie doesn’t do it justice. It comes close but there are simply too many small hiccups that prevent the film from achieving its full potential.
The film works well during its time on the broken oil tanker with Casey Affleck and his crew. Affleck is an extremely underrated actor who puts in stellar performances with each film he does, and The Finest Hours is no different. His portrayal of de facto ship captain Ray Sybert is almost mesmerizing. You forget that it’s Affleck on screen as he melds into his character, delivering one of the best performances of his career. In fact, everyone on the tanker gives a great performance as the characters are well flushed out.
For all the film does right on water, it flounders while on land. Chris Pine and Holliday Grainger are fantastic in this movie when they aren’t on the screen together and do the best that they can with what they are given, but their chemistry is flat and their interactions forced. Maybe that is how they really were; however, together they provide nothing to the film.
Pine’s Bernie Webber is portrayed as a timid and unassuming man who stepped up when it mattered most (which is all you can ask for in a good person), but a few missteps by the writers yank you out of the film when it should be pulling you in. A movie like this should not have you asking “why is this happening?” or “what was the point of that statement?” Case in point, Ben Foster’s character kind of pops up out of nowhere and assumes the best friend title for the second half of the film. Foster, like everyone else in the film, gives a solid performance and has some great one-liners, but you are never really told why he and Pine’s Webber are closer than any of the other Coast Guard members. This is a slightly different character than Pine is used to portraying. His usual brashness gets covered up by a meekness that makes you cheer for this man even more, especially after witnessing the guff he is put through by the local town people who blame him for a rescue that went bad years before.
Craig Gillespie, known for Lars and the Real Girl and Million Dollar Arm, is at his best when he is either showing action or showing re-action. Gillespie makes you feel like you are right there with them and that is no small feat.
If you’re a fan of real life heroics, I would recommend The Finest Hours. Everything just clicks when you are on the water, providing an adrenaline rush that any movie fan would welcome. That being said, it isn’t perfect, especially during the land scenes. Go in knowing that and you’ll walk out satisfied.